Category Archives: Uncategorized

Human Head and Leg Found Inside Tiger Shark


Back in November, 2014, fishermen in the Philippines hooked a large tiger shark. Not all that uncommon. But what they found inside was very unusual. A human head and leg. Some believe the victim had been a passenger on the MV Maharlika 2 ferry that sank near Leyte a few weeks earlier on September 13th.

It was a tiger shark that took the arm of surfer Bethany Hamilton several years ago. But the attack didn’t run this brave young woman out of the water though as she continues to be an active, competitive surfer.


This incident reminded me of the famous and fascinating 1935 Shark Arm Case in Australia. One that involved, forgery, blackmail, and murder and one where the shark was another innocent victim. The case was convoluted and confusing and raised many questions—-not the least of which was ”what constitutes a body?” Is an arm enough to say that a person was indeed dead?

I used this case as an example of corpse identification in my book Howdunnit: Forensics

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From Howdunnit: Forensics:


In April 1935, two fishermen caught a large tiger shark off the coast of Sydney, Australia, and donated the creature to a local aquarium. A few days later the shark regurgitated a well-preserved, muscular, Caucasian human arm. The shark was sacrificed and an autopsy was performed, but no more human remains were found.

The arm appeared to have been removed by a knife rather than by the shark’s teeth. Further, the knife wounds appeared to have occurred postmortem. The arm bore a tattoo of two boxers squaring off. Through meticulous work, fingerprints were obtained, and they indicated that the victim was James Smith, an ex-boxer with a criminal past. His wife identified the tattoo.


Further investigation led the police to Patrick Brady, a known forger and drug-trafficker, who had gone on a fishing trip with the victim just before his disappearance. Police theorized that Brady killed Smith, hacked him to pieces, and stuffed his remains into a trunk that was missing from the fishing shack the two men had shared. Smith’s arm must have slipped free in the water and been swallowed by the shark. Under questioning, Brady implicated another man named Reginald Holmes, who was himself shot to death the day before the inquest into Smith’s death was to begin. Brady’s attorneys obtained an injunction from the court, halting the inquest on the grounds that an arm was not sufficient evidence to bring murder charges. The police charged Brady with murder anyway, but a jury, likely influenced by the court ruling, acquitted him.



Posted by on January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


Join My Author TweetChat Tuesday August, 26 at 8 p.m. EDT

I’ll be doing a TweetChat on Tuesday 8-26-14 from 8 to 9 p.m. EDT (5 to 6 p.m. PDT) to chat about writing and my latest Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN. Join the discussion and you might win one of two signed copies of ORIGINAL SIN I’ll be giving away during the chat. It’ll be fun.

How do you join a TweetChat? It’s easy and simple. Go to and sign in with your Twitter account. Then enter the hashtag #AuthorTweetChat. At 8 PM (EDT) the conversation will begin. All you have to do is watch the conversation. @AuthorTweetChat and our social business influencer @brianmoran will ask DP Lyle questions and he will respond with Tweets. If you want to join the conversation, enter a Tweet in the designated area and will post your message for you. 

In Summary:

1-Go to

2-Sign in with your Twitter account

3-Type in hashtag: #AuthorTweetChat

4-Watch and join the discussion


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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Uncategorized, Writing


Crime and Science Radio This Saturday: An Interview With Barry A.J. Fisher, Past President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

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Crime and Science Radio: The Changing World of Forensic Science: An Interview With Barry A.J. Fisher, past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

Join DP Lyle and Jan Burke for a discussion with Barry A.J. Fisher, who spent two decades as the director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s crime labs. We’ll talk about his career, the present and future state of forensic science, new legislation and and how  the public can help to ensure the betterment of forensic science services.

BIO: An internationally regarded forensic scientist and leader in his field, Barry A. J. Fisher retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s crime lab after a 40 year distinguished career, the last 20 as crime lab director. He was responsible for conceptualizing, planning and coordinating the new LASD/LAPD crime lab located at California State University named the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center and the creation of the California Forensic Scince Institute.

Barry received his B.S. degree in chemistry from CCNY, his M.S. degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from California State University, Northridge. He is a past president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, past chair of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board, past president and distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences where he was awarded its highest honor, Gradwohl Medallion. He served as president of the International Association of Forensic Sciences and is a member of many other professional organizations including the IAI, CAC, TIAFT, CAT, and the IACP. 

His current interests concern the interrelationship between forensic science and the law along with public policy issues concerning the timely delivery of quality forensic support services to the criminal justice system. He served as a member of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section’s Ad Hoc Committee to Ensure the Integrity of the Criminal. 

He is a founding director and served on the Board of Directors of the National Forensic Science Technology Center from 1995 until 2007. Fisher is a member of several editorial boards:  the Journal of Forensic Sciences, the Journal of Forensic Identification, Forensic Science Policy and Management and the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Fisher is an alumni member of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and was a member of the IACP’s Forensics Committee. 

His textbook, Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, in its 8th edition, enjoys wide popularity.  He is a co-author of two other books, Forensics Demystified and An Introduction to Criminalistics: The Foundation of Forensic Science.

Fisher lectures throughout the United States, and has spoken in Canada, England, Australia, Singapore, France, Israel, Japan, China, Turkey and Portugal on forensic science laboratory practices, quality assurance and related topics.  In 2000, he led a forensic science delegation to lecture to forensic scientists in the People’s Republic of China.  In 2012, he was invited again to China to lecture on forensic science developments in the United States.

Since retiring, Fisher has consulted for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United States Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Program (ICITAP) and Analytic Services Inc., a not-for-profit institute that provides studies and analyses to aid decision-makers in national security, homeland security, and public safety. He also consults on forensic science matters with Park Dietz and Associates.

Fisher, a native New Yorker, is married. He and his wife Susan reside in Indio in Riverside County, California. They have two married sons: David, a criminalist with the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Forensic Biology Department, and Michael, an entrepreneur, and eight grandchildren.



Announcement of Formation of the National Commission on Forensic Science

LASD Scientific Services Bureau

LAPD Scientific Investigation Division

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

American Society of Crime Lab Directors

American Society of Crime Lab Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board

Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center

World Forensic Festival, Seoul, Korea, October 2014

International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program

National Academy of Sciences 2009 Study: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States

National Forensic Science Technology Center

American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section

International Association of Chiefs of Police

American Bar Association Science and Technology Section


Crime and Science Radio: Burning Down the House: An Interview with Fire Investigator John Lentini

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Crime and Science Radio: Burning Down the House: An Interview with Fire Investigator John Lentini, Saturday, March 15 at 10 a.m. PDT

John Lentini will educate us about scientific fire investigation, what can be learned from examining the scene of a fire, and why improved training and scientific approaches to fire investigation are so important.

John Lentini, author of Scientific Protocols for Fire Investigation, is one of the leading fire investigators in the U.S.  He is the president and chief investigator of Scientific Fire Analysis, LCC.  He is a certified by both the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI) and the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI). and is a certified Diplomate of the American Board of Criminalistics, with a specialty in Fire Debris Analysis. He was a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 2009 President’s Panel on Scientific Integrity.  He has authored over 3000 technical reports and testified in over 200 cases since 1975.  He has testified for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, and as a neutral court-hired expert. He has appeared on Frontline, 20/20 and other television programs.



Scientific Fire Analysis:

ABC News: Fire Expert: How I Nearly Sent An Innocent Man to the Electric Chair:

Lime Street Fire: Wikipedia:

International Association of Arson Investigators:

National Institute of Justice: A Guide for Investigating Fire and Arson:

Fire Investigation: Wikipedia:

InterFIRE: The Anatomy of an Arson Case:

Scientific Protocols for Fire Investigation, Second Edition, by John Lentini

Scientific Fire Analysis, LLC

A Basic Explanation of How Fire Works (from

“Arson Forensics Sets Old Fire Myths Ablaze” NPR interview with John Lentini

“Spark of Truth: Can Science Bring Justice to Arson Trials?” Discover Magazine

“Arson Myths Fuel Errors” Chicago Tribune

“Trial by Fire: Did Texas Execute An Innocent Man?” Story on Willingham case in The New Yorker

Trailer for Incendiary: The Willingham Case

Frontline’s Death by Fire program on the Willingham case

“Fire Expert: How I Nearly Sent an Innocent Man to the Electric Chair” 20/20 article

Link to downloadable fire science publications by John Lentini 

ABC News’s 20/20: Evidence Under Attack in Two Texas Arson Convictions

National Association of Fire Investigators

National Fire Protection Association

International Association of Arson Investigators

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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Book Review: FEAR NOTHING by Lisa Gardner

Fear Nothing.



Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

Dutton Adult

January 7, 2014

ISBN-10: 0525953086

ISBN-13: 978-0525953081

400 pages

If this story has a theme, it’s pain. Physical, emotional, psychological pain.

Fear nothing? Fear everything. And everyone.

There are dysfunctional families and then there are dysfunctional families. Some have quirks, idiosyncrasies, while others are down-right pathological. Fear Nothing  deals with a family that redefines the term dysfunctional.

This is Gardner’s sixth Detective D.D. Warren novel, and like her other psychological thrillers, this story will keep you awake and make you think. D.D. is her usual ballsy self but the engines that drive this story are Dr. Adeline Glen and Shana Day, estranged sisters, daughters of Harry Day, an infamous and brutal serial killer who ravaged his victims by removing strips of skin as trophies. Now a series of eerily similar killings attracts D.D.’s attention. The perpetrator is dubbed the Rose Killer for his, or her, habit of not only taking away strips of his victims’ skin but also leaving a bottle of champagne and a single red rose at the scene. Who is the Rose Killer? Is there a connection between him and Harry Day? Or maybe Adeline and Shana?

If this story has a theme, it’s pain. Physical, emotional, psychological pain. D.D. suffers pain after a fall—or was she pushed?—down a flight of stairs at a crime scene she foolishly re-visited at night, alone. A serious and painful shoulder injury results. This plagues her throughout the story and leads her to the offices of Dr. Adeline Glen, a woman incapable of feeling pain. She suffers from a rare neurological disorder that renders her immune to painful sensations, a condition that has severely limited her life, making sports and many other activities unwise. How could she know if and when she injured herself? Devoid of painful sensations, bruises, breaks, and bleeding could easily go unnoticed and ultimately be life-threatening. But this limitation leads her to a career in psychiatry where she specializes in pain management. It is the management of her shoulder pain that leads D.D. to Dr. Glen’s office.

And what of Adeline’s sister, Shana? She has been in prison for thirty years of a life sentence for killing a childhood friend. Or did she? Was she simply so anti-social that her conviction was inevitable or was she truly a deeply disturbed sociopath, capable of killing without remorse? One thing for sure is that Shana relishes pain, repeatedly inflicting it on herself, and others. Fellow inmates, and even the prison guards, tread carefully in her presence.

The Danse Macabre that unfolds among D.D., Adeline, and Shana creates a convoluted plot that will keep you guessing, and intrigued, until the final page.

Lisa Gardner writes great psychological thrillers and Fear Nothing is yet another excellent example. Highly recommended.

Original Review for the NY Journal of Books:

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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


Anthony Award Nominations Announced

Nominations for the Anthony Award have been announced and MORE FORENSICS AND FICTION is one of the nominees.


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Congratulations to all my fellow nominees. They are:


Dare Me – Megan Abbott [Reagan Arthur]

The Trinity Game – Sean Chercover [Thomas & Mercer]

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn [Crown]

The Beautiful Mystery – Louise Penny [Minotaur]

The Other Woman – Hank Phillippi Ryan [Forge]



Don’t Ever Get Old – Daniel Friedman [Thomas Dunne]

The Professionals – Owen Laukkanen [Putnam]

The Expats – Chris Pavone [Crown]

The 500 – Matthew Quirk [Reagan Arthur]

Black Fridays – Michael Sears [Putnam]



Whiplash River – Lou Berney [William Morrow]

Murder for Choir – Joelle Charbonneau [Berkley Prime Crime]

And She Was – Alison Gaylin [Harper]

Blessed are the Dead – Malla Nunn [Emily Bestler]

Big Maria – Johnny Shaw [Thomas & Mercer]



“Mischief in Mesopotamia” – Dana Cameron, EQMM, Nov 2012

“Kept in the Dark” – Shelia Connolly, Best New England Crime Stories: Blood Moon [Level Best]

“The Lord is My Shamus” – Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder, p.97 [Wildside]

“Peaches” – Todd Robinson, Grift, Spring 2012, p.80

“The Unremarkable Heart” – Karin Slaughter, Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance, p.177 [Mulholland]



Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels – John Connolly and Declan Burke, eds. [Hodder & Stoughton/Emily Bestler]

Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 – Joseph Goodrich, ed. [Perfect Crime]

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered – D.P. Lyle, M.D. [Medallion]

The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie – Mathew Prichard, ed. [Harper]

In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero – Otto Penzler, ed. [Smart Pop]



Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


Q and A: What Drug Might Make My Character Impotent?

Q: My story is about a woman who, for various reasons, does not want to have sex with her husband. She decides to obtain an antiandrogen drug and administer to hubby sub rosa to prevent him from having erections. What drug might be best for this? How would it be administered? Could it be obtained from foreign pharmacy in Canada or Mexico?

Herb Vest, Dallas, TX


A: There are many drugs that can potentially cause impotence or erectile dysfunction. Most are unpredictable and they work in different manners but since she would have access to his food and drink and even his medications on a daily basis she could easily perform a trial and error study to see which ones work best for her needs.

One would be simply giving him her birth control pills. These would be easy to crush and add the food and over time could cause an elevation of estrogen and a lowering of testosterone levels and this could interfere with his sexual function. This would take weeks or months to work and he could have certain side effects such as slight breast enlargement and tenderness but for the most part the drug would go unnoticed he would simply have a more difficult time getting and maintaining an erection.

Many classes of blood pressure medications can do the same thing. Diuretics, ace inhibitors, and calcium channel blockers can do this but by far the most likely are the beta blockers: atenolol, metoprolol, and propranolol are the most common. These drugs tend to lower the blood pressure and slow the heart rate and this is how they lower blood pressure but they are also notorious for causing sexual dysfunction in men. Besides the sexual problems the other side effects that he could experience would be fatigue, sleepiness, forgetfulness, and possibly some shortness of breath. In most people these latter symptoms are mild and he might simply write them off to being overworked or under stress as these symptoms are also associated with that.

The medications used for prostate cancer such as Flutamide and Leuprolide, can also cause impotence.

HERE is a useful chart of the drugs that can cause sexual dysfunction.

Each of these medications is easy to obtain as they are very common and widely used. She could forge a prescription, steel some from a neighbor, or get them prescribed for herself. Many can be ordered from Canada if a valid or forged prescription is available. If she or someone she knew worked in a pharmacy or a medical facility they could easily be stolen as they are not controlled drugs and therefore not locked up and often accounting is lax.

Of all of these possibilities I would go with the beta blockers. The dosage can be adjusted up or down to cause a more or less affect on his sexual performance and also to lessen any side effects he might have. Each comes as a pill that can easily be crushed and added to food.



Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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